DISCLAIMER: Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to The Write Reads tours for having me on the tour.
Blindsided by an attack that destroys her home and blamed for murder, Karolina Dalca, a half-vampire, escapes, only to plunge into the magical societies from which she was sheltered.
Betrayed by those around her, she abandons her dreams of becoming an investigator and flees, trusting only herself. Her police internship would never prove more useful. Hoofing it through the wilderness, she makes it to her university dorm, disheveled but delightfully deflowered.
Enter a full vampire: one wielding dark magic and a ride out of Canada. A fugitive from the law, Karo complies with his demands to escape, unsure whether his requests are bewitched. She vows to clear her name and avenge her mother’s death, but Karo’s family secrets aren’t so easily left behind.
Karolina (Karo) Dalca, Dark Eyes is a dark, twisted tale that follows the woman herself on a search for her mother’s killer. Along the way, she encounters, Andre, the vampire who will lead her directly to her long-lost family. But will this be the heart-warming family reunion she’s been dreaming of, or will it be one tainted by corruption and deceit?
The storyline itself is enjoyable. At its core, it’s a battle between good and evil – but the lines are blurry. After losing her mother, Karolina has to decide if anyone is worth trusting again. It takes her on a whirlwind journey to her royal familial roots in Eastern Europe. However, she doesn’t make the journey alone, as her best childhood friend, Roman, and intriguing new ‘bodyguard’, Andre, join her on this mission.
Naturally, this book does follow the love triangle trope but an interesting twist to it is supplied which made it far better. The love triangle trope can feel over-used, but it didn’t in this story. I can’t fully explain why without ruining it but it made the relationships more complex between the characters which was appreciated.
Roman, the sweet childhood best friend, steps into the role of rescuer when he realises the dangers Karo is about to face. The issue I had with Roman was that he felt very much like the lovesick puppy of the group. His character wasn’t particularly interesting to me, and his over-protectiveness was a bit… well, grim. Their romance felt a bit more forced, and that’s why I can’t get behind the pairing.
Andre, on the other hand, has his own interests in protecting Karo. Their connection is built upon an innate bond between their kind (vampires) and another event that draws them together. As mentioned above, I can’t dive into it without ruining it. Andre’s character development is taking an interesting turn, and I find him far more appealing.
Eventually, Karolina turns into the strong female protagonist she so deserves to become as you get deeper into the story. At first, I was quite concerned she’d end up being the damsel in distress type, so you can imagine my relief when that wasn’t the case. Her stubbornness and determination are some of her most powerful traits as she consistently uses them to her advantage.
While I did devour this book, I did find that it has issues with pacing and the world-building wasn’t particularly strong. Plus, I couldn’t quite connect with the characters as their backstories didn’t feel fully developed. I needed more to feel an emotional connection towards them. Hopefully, this is fully explored in book 2: Dark Eyes, White Lies.